JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser preps for the week ahead with five quick questions for Texans-Jaguars at EverBank Field in Jacksonville Sunday
1.How do you stop J.J.?This is the primary question for Texans opponents these days. Defensive end J.J. Watt is the NFL's most disruptive defensive player, and he also has five touchdowns this season – two on defense and three on offense. While he lines up everywhere along the line, his primary position is left end. That brings up another issue. Starting right tackle Austin Pasztor likely is out for the season after rupturing a hamstring Sunday against the Giants. Thus, Sunday's starting right tackle for the Jaguars? Rookie Josh Wells or veteran Sam Young.
2.Can the Jaguars get looser?The Jaguars' offensive players like playing fast. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch likes the approach, too. And at times this season, the offense has played well doing that. So, spread things out, play multiple receivers and go up tempo, right? Easier said than done. The team has had trouble protecting the quarterback, and that can mean a lot of fails on offense. Can the Jaguars find balance and still play loose? That figures to be a weekly question the rest of the season.
3.Can the defense keep it up?The Jaguars' defense was really good two weeks ago against the Colts. It was even better in the second half Sunday against the Giants – to the tune of four sacks, three takeaways and two defensive touchdowns. Can the defense match that? Can it do better? That's tough to ask, but the defense may need to play to that level the rest of the season to give the Jaguars a chance.
4.Can the offense protect the quarterback?Jaguars quarterbacks have been sacked far too often this season, and that remained true against the Giants last week. It's not all on the offensive line, and Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley in fact said just three of seven Giants sacks were caused by the offensive line. Blake Bortles throwing the ball away better. All players recognizing blitzes better. Backs picking up blitzes better. The line blocking better. All need to happen for the offense to function better, but until those things happen this area will remain a question.
5.Can the Jaguars get momentum?The Jaguars got a victory Sunday, and without question it was a big victory. When you rally from 21 points down for the biggest comeback victory in franchise history, it can lead to bigger things. The same is true when your rookie quarterback leads a last-minute drive for the first come-from-behind victory of his career. Those things happened for the Jaguars against the Giants, and those were good things. But momentum is only momentum if it lasts, and we won't know if it will last until Sunday.